I hadn’t heard of the ‘eggshell skull’ principle before – it’s a legal doctrine that says a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’. For example if you swing a punch at someone and they die because they have a thin skull, you can’t use that to excuse ‘just a punch’. In the case of Bri Lee, a once defenseless victim becomes a strong accuser who knows the system and is determined to navigate a path to justice.
This memoir begins as the author finishes law school and gets a job as a judge’s associate in the District Court. This first part of the book was fascinating to me as I am always curious about what other people ‘do’ all day at work. In her new job it becomes very quickly apparent to Bri that a large number of the cases she’d be dealing with related to violence against women, especially sexual assault, and that most of the time the only women in the courtroom were defendants.
Bri had been determined to keep her secret to herself but the frustrations of seeing case after case before the judge lead her to seemingly the only sensible path forward – to report what happened to her as a child to the police and get her attacker to face her accusation. The book takes us through the ups and downs and at times excruciatingly long periods of just waiting for the next thing to happen that are all part of the legal system.
It’s not hard to maintain interest in this book, indeed I read it over one evening and the following morning, but it’s not an easy read. Brutally honest insights into the author’s thoughts, emotions and resulting behaviours are shared without reservation, leaving the reader to wonder at the strength it must have taken to not only navigate this inner turmoil but to remain at the same time a functioning adult.